Psychological Torture-Ashrams Cults and Yoga

This is the introduction page/working title to my new book. As I write it I will post it.

What is psychological torture? Well for me, and this is all about me, the place where I get to be the centre of the universe, it’s untruths, half-truths, lies, and manipulations for the benefit of someone or some organization that are not in my best interests.

From 1988 to 2003 I was part of a community of yoga, based out of Yaśodharā Ashram at Kootenay Bay B.C.

This was headed up by a woman, Sylvia Hellman, an immigrant to Canada from Germany following the second world war. While working at an explosives factory in Montreal she went to Rishikesh in northern India, and through Swami Sivananda she was initiated in the Saraswati order of monks and changed her name to Swami Radha. She was then dispatched to start an ashram in Canada in the 1950s. This she did entirely with donations and volunteer labour.

Fast forward to 1988. The ashram had bought houses in several cities, as well as the land and buildings next to Kootenay Lake, installed volunteer resident rent-paying yoga teachers then charged for classes, a business model used for centuries by religious organizations. Then I showed up.

Typically I was the cult recruiter’s target market. This I learned much later from Janja Lalich author of Take Back Your Life: Recovering From Cults & Abusive Relationships. Smart, educated, high-income earner and in transition.

I didn’t tick all the boxes exactly but they could use my volunteer ethic as an unpaid heavy labourer if I couldn’t afford their $6,000.00 residencies. They offered instant friendship, instant acceptance and the narcissist stare, that unblinking look of mother lover usually meant for bonding with your kid.

I was hooked.

The target market for cults —© Blackstock Art&Design

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Jerald W. Blackstock

Jerald W. Blackstock

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